Basketball coach looks to next level

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Southland Basketball Association development officer Leyton Haddleton in action with the Southland Sharks basketball team. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

LEYTON Haddleton aspires to be part of the Tall Blacks management squad one day but it’s the impact his mentors in another code had on him which helped shape the way he approaches basketball coaching.

These days a Southland Basketball Association development officer and coach from beginner to regional and national junior representatives, Haddleton was once a talented footballer, good enough to earn a little bit of money from playing the beautiful game.

As a youngster he vividly recalls a football coach who made trainings both challenging and fun, ensuring players always had a ball at their feet and were always developing their skills.

Later there was a coach who would spend trainings barking at him, making him question why he was involved in the game, while there was another mentor who would talk about strategies and how each role fitted into what the team was trying to achieve.

Further experience with national junior basketball teams, the Southland Sharks and the NZ Breakers has helped mould Haddleton’s thinking about what good coaching looks like.

“I’ve had quite a varied experience with coaches. When I coach these days my philosophy is built around fun, competition and ensuring people come away enjoying the game, because if you can get someone hooked, they will be involved hopefully for longer than just through high school.”

Haddleton is one of six Southland coaches who have been selected for the prestigious two-year Academy Southland Performance Coach Programme.

The programme was born out of Sport Southland’s 2013 Talent Development Strategy, which recognised coaching as n important area for development, and this will be the fourth intake since its inception.

Glen Thomson (cycling), Jansen Rogers (triathlon), Chris Telfer (softball), Chris Marsh (football) and Jacqui van Dam (rowing) complete the coaching group.

Academy Southland programme manager Jason McKenzie said the calibre of applications for this year’s programme were impressive.

“We are always mindful of developing the depth of coaching in Southland, because we know the impact that coaching has on giving young people a great experience in sport and ensuring they keep involved throughout their lives,” he said.

“The coaches who we have selected have already achieved a great deal in their respective sports, and over the next two years we will help them get to the next level.”

During the programme coaches will develop their own coaching philosophies and a future development plan with the help of monthly seminars.

Haddleton said he was looking forward to being part of a cohort of coaches looking to develop as people.

“The thing about coaching is you are always looking for ways to improve yourself and this is an opportunity to talk to other coaches who aren’t in your sport, which gives you another perspective,” Haddleton said.

“I just felt like being around people who want to coach at the next level will not only increase my knowledge base but I’m looking forward to being around people who are willing to challenge me about how I think about coaching.”

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